Friday Five: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's silky supergroup, Lil Baby's championship run, and more
The five best songs we heard this week.
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars leave us feeling smooth as silk, Lil Baby furthers his artistic vision, Rostam dreams of road trips, Japanese Breakfast wants you to be sweet, and St. Vincent just wants to be loved.
"Leave the Door Open" — Silk Sonic
A smooth-as-butter debut from the fittingly named Silk Sonic, a super duo consisting of pop star revivalist Bruno Mars and multi-hyphenate funkster Anderson .Paak. "Leave the Door Open" is all come-ons ("I won't bite, unless you like/If you smoke, I got the haze/And if you're hungry, girl, I got filets") and pitch-perfect harmonies. It's a 21st-century take on the Delfonics — with the style and substance to match. —Alex Suskind
"Real as It Gets" — Lil Baby feat EST Gee
Lil Baby's My Turn was one of the most successful hip-hop albums of 2020, but the Atlanta champion is rapping with an insatiable drive to outmatch it. Many of the singles he's released since — he and 42 Dugg's ecstatic "We Paid," his articulate protest song "The Bigger Picture," and his December victory lap "Errbody" — have only seen his delivery get tighter and his artistic vision become more intricate. His new loosie with Louisville up-and-comer EST Gee is a fast and focused banger with a hair-raising beat. Baby returns to the tongue-twisting flow he employed on the My Turn standout "Live Off My Closet," while EST Gee's delivery supplies a grittier, more measured contrast. It's been over a year, but Lil Baby's turn is far from over. —Eli Enis
"4Runner" — Rostam
On "4Runner," Rostam's sights are on the fine white lines of the freeway. "When the trucks drive by/I feel 'em sway us side to side/You're underneath a blanket on the backseat/I'm going station to station on the dial." Ditching the tightly coiled chamber music, syncopated drumming, and rubbery percussion from his first solo album, the multi-instrumentalist's first single off his sophomore album Changephobia charts a new path forward. —Alex Suskind
"Be Sweet" — Japanese Breakfast
On the first two Japanese Breakfast albums, Michelle Zauner used the project as a vehicle to process grief. Her upcoming record Jubilee, on the other hand, is intended to be a celebration of joy. Its lead single "Be Sweet" picks up where 2017's Soft Sounds From Another Planet left off, furthering the band's transformation from jangly dream pop to a nebulous composite of '80s pop and new wave. The song has a bumpy bassline, taut, funky guitar strokes, and steamy synths that evoke the atmosphere of a club with red lights and a productive fog machine. Its hook is effusively soaring, but Zauner's piercing verses ("So come and get your woman/pacify her rage") give her giddy sing-song a wry nudge that clarifies her mission statement. Joy, but not necessarily her own. —Eli Enis
"Pay Your Way in Pain — St. Vincent
Annie Clark's St. Vincent kicks off her new single "Pay Your Way in Pain" with a little player piano before jumping forward to sing-shout over a cheeky blend of '70s-style glam rock and '80s new wave. "The road is feelin' like a pothole/Sit down, stand up, head down, hands up," she says over a fat synth bassline. Before long, she's screeching, pleading — "I wanna be loved!" — before the sound drops out completely like it was all just a fever dream. —Alex Suskind